Test Prep – Does Visualizing Success Work?

A young woman a daydream.

While visualizing success is good in small doses, be sure it does not detract from your actual test prep experience.

When prepping for a big test, does merely visualizing success work? Well, no of course not, but it may help.

Who Visualizes Success?

Many of us have heard stories of professional athletes who can see themselves hitting the ball, making the shot, or kicking the winning goal. Recently, reports surfaced of the US Olympic swim team using visualization techniques to help them get the feel of cutting through the water for the win.

There can be little doubt that seeing yourself succeeding can help build confidence, but there is more to it than that.

Forbes reports in the article Visualize Success if You Want to Fail that Kappes and Oettingen performed four experiments using visualization techniques. The results showed that those who engaged in visualizing success did not perform as well as those who did not. Why not? One hypothesis is that visualizing success prevents individuals from keeping motivation needed for the hard work required to attain that very success. People can be lulled into thinking that we are capable of succeeding without doing more.

So Does Visualizing Success Work?

The answer, in my opinion, is that visualizing success is a wonderful tool for those suffering from test anxiety. Many great athletes, speakers, and successful individuals do use this technique, and it can be useful in relaxing an anxious test taker, but success based on visualization alone is a definite myth.

Becoming a world class athlete, a Nobel prize winner, or best selling author never comes through visualization alone. If you are using visualization in conjunction with the hard work required for test prep then it is a good tool, but it should be viewed as just a minor tool of many greater tools at your disposal.

If you are serious about test prep and doing well on your ACT and SAT, spend a little time on visualizing success and a whole lot of time on real test prep.